Apostle John defined the purpose ‘the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8) whereas many refuse to even believe that Satan exists. Many others think that the devil has no right over them while there are others who worship the devil. Satan has suffered defeat at the hands of Lord Jesus and can he have any right over the believers? And if he has, then how do we battle with him and emerge victorious in this spiritual battle having grave repercussions on our worldly life also?
What works of the devil stand destroyed by Lord Jesus? – The first result of sin was death and separation from God because in the Garden of Eden the first couple was in the presence of God. God sent His Son to be propitiation for our sins and that we might live through Him through being born again in Him (1 John 4:9-10). So what has Lord Jesus destroyed? God’s Son came not to condemn but save the world because the judgment will be at His second coming (John 3:17). He saves by destroying what is evil in us like carrying out a surgery to remove a tumor and His saving work is also a destroying work.
Every sinner is of the devil, ‘who has sinned from the beginning’ and works of the devil are sins but not the sinners, and no one born of God commits sin (1 John 3:8-10). Devil’s work is to tempt people to sin and the guilt of sin then leads to further sinning. But sin is lawlessness, which is disobedience to law claiming that my ideas are superior to the law of God (1 John 3:4). Sin is violation of God’s laws and I try and become law unto myself and this is called rebellion. Satan leads us to be like God and in pride put own desires before God’s desires and this is what the Savior came to destroy.
How did He destroy this? – ‘God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all’ and His appearance in the life of an individual removes darkness of sin from within that person (1 John 1:5). The act of destruction of devil’s works has two points, first is Lord Jesus’ appearing and second is the New Birth of man (1 John 3:8). His birth is declaration that God is one with us and His death and His resurrection is victory over and destruction of sin. Anyone born of God does not sin and it is not about being sinless but about having new desires and this is the New Birth (1 John 3:9). Apostle Paul terms it as new creation (Ephesians 2:10); God calls it giving a new heart (Jeremiah 24:7). Then God describes the giving of a new heart through and after washing with clean water and putting a new spirit while removing the heart of stone that was in lawlessness (Ezekiel 36:25-26).
Lord Jesus’ coming and New Birth are both important and interconnected for one cannot be without the other. The secret of not sinning is revealed that in one who is born of God, ‘His seed remains in him’ (1 John 3:9). The seed must be nurtured through daily fellowship with each other, carrying the same seed, and with God the Father and His Son. In this is transformation into ‘His image and likeness’ and God’s character is reflected in His children.
Satan’s sin was his unwillingness to be what God had created him to be, a covering cherub, but he desired to be ‘like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:14). It is the exact opposite of the nature of the Messiah, ‘who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant’ (Philippians 2:6-7). That is His command to us also so that our very nature becomes like his nature. God has promised ‘the former rain and the latter rain’ and the result of the second rain is always to give growth to the crop. God promises to be in the midst of His people and they shall never be put to shame; Second promise or the second rain is, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh’ and not just on the Israelites (Joel 2:23 & 27-28).
In Nazareth, Lord Jesus stood up and read the first two verses of Prophet Isaiah’s prophesy, while leaving a part of the second verse unread, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel (good tidings) to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the year of the LORD’ and He closed the book (Luke 4:16-20). The text beyond that is, ‘and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the gentiles, and in your glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs’ (Isaiah 61:1-7)
The Savior stopped midway for He is the ‘first rain’ that helps the seed to grow into a new birth. The vengeance of the LORD is two-fold, first part of the prophesy was completed and the second part is being executed by the ‘Comforter, the Holy Spirit’, whom the Father has sent in His Son’s name and He is ‘the Spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7). Believers are ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people’ empowered to stand in victory of the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). God promises to be a wall of fire all around His people and anyone who touches any of us, touches the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:5-8). The promise is that ‘the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry’ (Psalm 34:15). The disciples were sent by the Lord in the boat while He went to pray on the mountain and the disciples faced a heavy storm. The Savior Lord, after midnight, while in prayer on the mountain, ‘saw them straining at rowing’ and He came to them walking on water (Mark 6:45-51).
Christian life is about ‘walking in the light’ in fellowship with one another and with the Father and the Son and the ‘blood of the Son of God cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). It is about confession and repentance and receiving forgiveness to remain in the light so that my eyes are opened to the truth about sin and the holiness of God. Walking in the light is to be born again and the spiritual eyes being opened to be able to see the ugliness of sin. Prophet Elisha introduced himself as the one who stands before the LORD God of Israel and the Hebrew word ‘amad’ means ‘stand, to be a servant of, to take one’s stand’ in the authority of’ and he could stop rain and dew on the earth for more than three years (1 Kings 17:1).
Lord Jesus prayed to God the Father, ‘As You sent Me into the world. I also have sent them into the world’ and the Greek word ‘apostello’ translated as send is about ‘strongly connecting the sender to the one sent’ implying full authority and power (John 17:18). As a ‘child of God’ and a family member of God, I represent Him on earth and as His ambassador I enjoy immunity where the local government cannot touch me, that is the ‘god of this world’ and his demons. But the ambassador has to remain always in touch with His control and do the will of His government in total obedience. By His coming and blessing all believers with a new birth, Lord Jesus destroys the works of the devil in us, which is the desire to sin and removes the guilt of past sins. The indwelling Holy Spirit cautions a believer at every stage of his life when thinking about, planning, commission of sin and thereafter to repent and start anew. In this renewed state although we are surrounded all around us with the fire of disease and decay of moral values but we like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego, find that our God forms a wall around us and ‘the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them’ (Daniel 3:24-30). The fires all around cannot touch us, that is what has been changed by the Savior Lord.
The devil has no authority over us since we are not the citizens of his kingdom but as children of God we are the citizens of heaven and as every good government the government of heaven also protects its citizens. In this changed scenario, no evil and no plague can come near us for God’s angels are saving us (Psalm 91:10-12). We are seated with Lord Jesus in the heavenly places blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him (Ephesians 2:6). When we see no route of escape we must remember to not be afraid and stand still because our LORD will fight for us (Exodus 14:13-14) and He has destroyed all the works of the devil and we must rejoice in His peace that He has given us.
Does Satan has any authority over a believer? – In the Old Testament devil is called Lucifer and Prophet Isaiah describes his fall from grace for his sin of rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). Hebrew word ‘Helel’ is translated as Lucifer but it means ‘shining one, son of dawn or the morning star’. God’s Word to the prophet reveals the devil’s presence in ‘Eden, the Garden of God’ and his perfection at the time of his creation with exceptional wisdom and beauty. Being the ‘anointed cherub who covers’, he was on the holy mountain of God in God’s presence (Ezekiel 28:12-15). Apostle Paul declares that everything in heaven or on the earth, both visible or invisible was created in Lord Jesus, thus implying that the plan of creation was first revealed or formed in Him by the Father (Colossians 1:16-17). Then since He is the Creator, ‘all things subsist in Him’. Apostle John received the revelation of God through ‘fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ’ that ‘God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:3-5). Lord Jesus refers to Himself as ‘the bright morning star’ and the Greek word ‘lampros’ is translated as ‘bright’ but ‘this brightness is unique, splendid and magnificent’. The root word of this is ‘lampo’ which means ‘I shine, I give light’ and during transfiguration of the Lord the same word is used for the shining of His face like the sun (Revelation 22:16). The devil being created as the shining one presumed himself equal to the Creator and attempted to equate himself with God and was thrown ‘from heaven like lightening’ on to the earth which was void, without form and covered with darkness to show him that our light is not within but from the Lord Jesus only (Luke 10:18).
Why has God allowed the devil to function till now? – As per Scripture when all of creation was created in Lord Jesus, implying the complete details, He would be aware of future actions of the devil. However based on that knowledge, to stop creating him, would be punishing him without commission of any sin. A just God will not punish one and leave the other and if Satan has to suffer punishment today then all of creation must also be judged. Twice God declares that He does not desire death of the wicked but ‘that he should turn from his ways and live’ (Ezekiel 18:23 & 33:11). On the Day of Judgment, Lord Jesus would come on a white horse and judge the devil and his agents, the beast and the false prophet to send them into hell fire and the devil, the serpent of old, being sent in for a thousand years (Revelation 19:11-21 & 20:1-2).
Therefore, can the devil afflict the believers? – It is believed by many Jewish scholars that the serpent, who could walk straight, was cunning (intelligent) did not eat dust (but good food), desired Eve for himself. For this reason he approached the woman first. Taking this further, we know that the devil now desires the Bride of the Second Adam also, that is His Church. Our adversary, the devil, is painted as a ‘roaring lion, seeking whom to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). The Pharisees were branded by the Lord to be ‘of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do’, and he is a murderer and a liar, who does not stand in the truth (John 8:4). Two points emerge from this that the unbelievers are of the devil and he is looking out for his targets, the believers, while trying to put dread into their hearts but is happy with those who live as per his rules. As per Scripture ‘we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12). Since this is written to believers the danger is also to them only and they have to be prepared.
Coming of the Messiah is not only about salvation through forgiveness of sins but more importantly it is about being made part of God’s family. Unfortunately what we cannot see in the material realm, we fail to visualize the fullness of that and as a result miss out on the resultant blessings. As a child of God, a believer is endowed with abundant spiritual authority and power in the victorious Savior’s name and Satan and his wicked spirits are under his/her control. The victory is our faith that Lord Jesus is the Son of God!